5 Ways to Get Kids’ Sports Equipment Cheaper

Nicole LaFountain encourages her children to try a variety of sports, so her son, 9, and daughter, 11, have tried gymnastics, soccer, lacrosse, T-ball, swimming, karate, and other activities. The drawback of participating in many sports is that many of them call for specialized gear, which can get expensive.

For instance, three weeks before the season’s finish, her son’s hockey skates were no longer big enough. Near her home in Waterford, Connecticut, she looked for a used pair, but she was unsuccessful in finding any, and neither her friends nor family had any hand-me-downs. She ultimately spent $600 on a new pair after driving for an hour to a speciality store. Would the skates still fit in the future? Maybe. Perhaps not, she quips. What do you do, though? It’s insane!

LaFountain is hardly the only parent who is frustrated. They are thrilled when their kids want to try out new sports, but they rapidly experience sticker shock due to the expensive equipment the youngsters need. Sports like softball or hockey can easily cost several hundred dollars for jerseys, league organization fees, and necessary protective gear. Even getting the right equipment might be difficult, especially in smaller towns with fewer shops and leagues. Additionally, for some families, the lack of accessible equipment prevents children from playing outside.

Saving money is possible, but it requires a little more time and work. Make a list of the items you need and the sizes you’re after first. Be proactive by beginning your search early and use as many networks as you can. People can now have some time to check their closets to see what they have. Sometimes a find might be made by simply chit-chatting with other athletes. For instance, James Stephen Smith of Queens obtained a set of youth clubs after telling a golfing friend that his daughter was interested in trying the sport.

The best option for families on a tight budget is to purchase used sporting goods. In this manner, you can acquire the ideal size at a reasonable cost. You won’t lose hundreds of dollars if your kid outgrows the equipment or decides they don’t like the sport. When buying new equipment, it pays to compare prices. Sports gear and accessories are frequently discounted by big-box shops as new inventory arrives.

Here are some further tips on where to discover discounts on used (and even brand-new) equipment.

Seasonal trade-in programs

The now-age 8 and 10 children of Hillary Joseph both learned to ski at the age of 3. Physical therapist Joseph, who practices in Denver, rarely purchases brand-new equipment, preferring to participate in secondhand or swap programs at a nearby sports goods store. “You get a discount on your first purchase, and you pay a small fee each time you trade in,” she explains. Every August, Joseph takes the kids and their equipment to assess what fits and what needs to be upgraded.

The same is done by Smith, whose daughters are 11, 13, and 20. He discovered a warehouse close to his house where parents can purchase old skis, snowboards, boots, and poles that are within the current model year for $10 to $25. “Skiing is an expensive hobby,” he claims, but Smith only pays $25 to update boots with the correct sizes. Some sporting goods and specialty bike shops also offer a trail and/or mountain bike trade-in program, while winter sports programs are the most well-liked. Purchase a new or used bike, and then trade it in to get up to 50% of the purchase price back.

Gear swaps

Swaps and trades are also provided by numerous regional sports leagues and groups. When you join our hockey program, you must pay for your own equipment. Then it holds an equipment trade-in once every three months. You are free to bring and take anything you require, says Joseph, who also makes use of an annual “bring-one-take-one” swimsuit exchange with her daughter’s swim team.

These items can include chest pads, elbow pads, skates, shin guards, or sticks. Suggest hosting exchanges if your club or sports organization doesn’t already, or start one yourself. You can still take advantage of the scenario even if your children try a new sport and end up detesting it by attempting to trade or sell the equipment. “Passing along your equipment so it can be swapped or sold at a discount may make the difference between another kid of limited means playing a sport or not,” claims LaFountain.

Outlet stores and tent sales

Look to outlet malls towards the end of each season for significant savings, whether it is in January for football or June for hockey. In April, for instance, when the business is seeking to empty the shelves of winter clothing, Joseph shops at a Columbia Factory Outlet. She says, “I’ll buy ski jackets or snow pants.” Although they could be a little large for the children, they will grow into them and might even survive two seasons.

A few months before a season begins, retailers also offer discounts on apparel. Smith begins looking for savings on ski equipment and lacrosse gear in sporting goods companies’ tent sales around October.

Chatrooms and online markets

People frequently list products in internet forums that they want to sell. In order to get a set of size five cleats for your child, consider asking on their team’s message board, through the PTA at your school, or through neighborhood websites like Nextdoor. For his youngest kid, Smith discovered a free set of ski poles on Facebook Marketplace.

Consignment stores

Consignment shops for sporting goods acquire and sell both new and old items of high quality. LaFountain opened a Play It Again Sports location after using hockey skates. Footballs, cleats, skates, rackets, baseball bats, bicycles, and other items are brought by consignors. Sellers are paid in cash or store credit when the items are evaluated. Because businesses can usually only sell for up to half the original price, you won’t get the full retail value. However, it does let you recoup some of the expense.

Additionally, it’s a fantastic deal for customers who can save 50 to 80 percent off of retail prices while also knowing that store employees are scrutinizing everything they purchase.

“If I wouldn’t let my kids use it, I won’t sell to someone else for their kid,” LaFountain asserts.

If you are unable to locate a consignment shop in your area, check online. For instance, Play It Again Sports offers an online marketplace where you can browse inventory from its 300 stores and find what you’re looking for.

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